Take a trip to Gainsborough

Words by:
Andrew Vaux
Featured in:
February 2024

Visitors of all ages can enjoy a wealth of heritage, shopping and places to explore in this picturesque market town, which is also set to benefit from a major regeneration project. Andrew Vaux finds out more.

In the district of West Lindsey, just a 30-minute drive from Lincoln on the westerly edge of the county, bordered by the River Trent lies the historic market town of Gainsborough.

With its fascinating history and heritage, as well as interesting things to do, old and new sit comfortably together offering a great range of days out for all ages.

Gainsborough’s history predates Roman times, but it was probably the Anglian ‘Gainas’ tribe who in the 6th century first settled on the site of what is now the present-day town.

The earliest notice of Gainsborough, or Gainsburgh, was during the Saxon era.

During this unsettled and war-like period it was the scene of various battles, sometimes forming part of the Kingdom of Northumbria, and at others being part of Mercia. Gainsborough’s position on the banks of the River Trent made it very much a frontier town, and when Sweyne (Forkbeard) King of Denmark brought his vessels up the Trent in 1013 and landed his forces in the town, the whole of Northumbria, together with Lindsey, submitted to his rule.

Sweyne died the following year at Gainsborough. His son Canute, better known for tide-turning fame, worked hard to consolidate his father’s conquests, but the Danes were eventually defeated by the Saxons, led by Ethelred. At this period the Danes greatly outnumbered the English.

Although the Domesday Survey of 1086 recorded only 80 people living in Gainsborough, the town grew, and during the Middle Ages emerged as a major wool centre with a thriving port until the advent of the railways in 1849.

The town’s not-to-be-missed historical attractions include Gainsborough Old Hall – one of England’s biggest and best-preserved manor houses.

Here visitors can see how sumptuous feasts and banquets were prepared in the impressive medieval kitchen with its enormous fireplace and great hall with ornate wooden ceiling. After wandering along winding corridors and up dead-end stairs, you can relax and unwind in the refurbished café set in the15th-century parlour.

You don’t need to book tickets in advance, but will always get the best price and guaranteed entry if you book ahead online at www.english-heritage.org.uk/visit/places/gainsborough-old-hall.

Gainsborough Heritage Centre is housed in the town’s old telephone exchange and post office, which opened in 1905. The centre includes a working research library, gift shop, tearoom and permanent exhibitions, including industrial exhibits, a period street scene, vintage post office, shops, houses and yards, as well as temporary exhibitions.

There are also regular events and talks. For more information visit the website www.gainsboroughheritage.co.uk/whats-on.

Also worth a visit are the Old Nick Police Museum and the Victorian Police Station, which was the divisional headquarters of the Lincolnshire Constabulary and former Magistrates Court between 1860 and 1974. Visitors can experience the male and female cells and exercise yards. For more information visit www.facebook.com/oldnickmuseum

For railway fans, the Gainsborough Model Railway is also a good place to check out.

The building of the present railway started in 1953 and has now become one of the largest ‘O’ gauge model railways of its kind in the country with more than 150 locomotives, 100 coaches, 200 wagons and vans, 150 points, half a mile of track, and nine stations.

For more information see the web page: www.gainsboroughmodelrailway.co.uk

The bronze statue of the Pilgrim Woman is a lasting legacy bringing attention to the often-unheard stories of the women who travelled to America on the Mayflower.

The Mayflower story is usually dominated by the idea of the ‘Pilgrim Fathers’ when in fact men, woman and children were all part of the journey.

Some of these women were the wives of leading Separatists, and include Mary Brewster, wife of William Brewster, who served as a leader instrumental in establishing the Plymouth Colony in America. Mary was also one of the women to survive the first winter in America and may have helped cook the first Thanksgiving in 1621.

For more information visit www.discovergainsborough.com/pilgrim-roots/the-pilgrim-woman
Visitors can also enjoy a walk through time with the Gainsborough Heritage Trail, a 90-minute self-led Heritage Walking Trail, which takes in the scenery and history along the way.

Meanwhile, shoppers can enjoy bustling markets on Tuesdays and Saturdays, or visit Marshall’s Yard – the former base of Marshall, Sons & Co, a major boiler manufacturer founded by William Marshall in 1848.

Marshall’s Yard boasts more than 30 well-known stores such as M&S and Next, alongside independent stores stocking popular brands such as Tommy Hilfiger, Joules, Whistles and many more.
The centre is open 9am to 5pm Monday to Saturday and 10am-4pm Sunday. Find out more at www.marshallsyard.co.uk

The latest addition to Marshall’s Yard is The Heal’m Practice – a new healthcare hub, including podiatry, chiropody, nail surgery and sports massage.

With satellite clinics already running throughout Lincolnshire, the practice offers both in-clinic and at-home appointments as well as now offering a training facility enabling students to access an ITOL (Institute of Training and Occupational Learning) accredited Foot Health Practitioner course.

Business owners Darren and Emma Lambert are proud of the new fully registered facility at Marshall’s Yard and have already worked hard with the local job centre to expand their team, creating jobs for the area.

Darren said: “The unit at Marshall’s Yard is perfect for our new venture; we live locally and feel with affordable parking right outside this is the right spot for our facility both for patients and our trainees, who will be visiting us from all over the country, looking to become foot practitioners.”

The academy is the first in the east of the country to offer training at level 3 and 4 in the Diploma in Foot Health.

Across the town, a major regeneration project is underway to breathe new life into the area.
Two green spaces will be transformed thanks to a share of £10 million as part of the ‘Levelling Up’ programme, to regenerate the town and help create a ‘Thriving Gainsborough’.

A share of £1.2 million of the funds will used be for Whitton’s Gardens and the former Baltic Mill site where Caskgate Street meets Silver Street and Bridge Street.

Work has been ongoing to finalise the Public Realm Strategy for Gainsborough’s Green Spaces since early 2022, with plans approved by the Prosperous Communities Committee.

Informed by public consultation undertaken earlier this year and with support from experts in design, engineering and landscape architecture, ‘Project Centre’ designs have been finalised and funds are now in place to commence the transformation.

Councillor Trevor Young, Leader of West Lindsey District Council, highlighted what the project means to the local community.

He said: “We’re passionate about our town and this funding will help improve our green spaces, which links back to our Sustainability, Climate Change and Environment Strategy. I look forward to seeing the changes take place and to enhance the appeal for others to visit Gainsborough.”

Planning applications are currently being submitted for the two areas, and construction will be subject to the council’s procurement process, with the green spaces expected to open by 2025.

Sally Grindrod-Smith, director of Planning, Regeneration and Communities, said: “The creation of a brand-new community green space at Baltic Mill and a refreshed Whitton’s Gardens with a new café is an integral part of the Thriving Gainsborough 2024 programme.

“The bid for funding recognised that access to quality green space is limited here, and we can’t wait to deliver this part of our Levelling Up programme.”

The new spaces will complement the recently upgraded play areas at The Levellings Park, which have been delivered by Gainsborough Town Council thanks to a £100,000 investment from the FCC Communities Foundation and West Lindsey District Council.

In addition to the public realm strategy, several other projects are underway as part of the ‘Thriving Gainsborough’ programme, which includes:
• 4-screen cinema, two retail units, a restaurant, and additional parking
• Redesigning the use and streetscape of the Marketplace
• Townscape Heritage Initiative to refurbish heritage buildings and wider shopfronts
• Implementation of wayfinding strategy to direct residents, businesses and visitors around the town
• Refurbishment of the bus station
• Living Above the Shop programme to create more homes in the town centre.

To keep up to date with all the Levelling Up projects follow @investGainsboro or visit: investgainsborough.com/luf/

The Heal’m Practice, which recently moved into new premises in Marshall’s Yard is a highly regarded healthcare hub including podiatry, chiropody, nail surgery and sports massage.

Run by owners Darren and Emma Lambert, this friendly, family run clinic offers in-clinic and at-home appointments, as well as a new training academy enabling students to access an ITOL (Institute of Training and Occupational Learning) accredited Foot Health Practitioner course.

The academy offers training at level 3 and 4 in the Diploma in Foot Health and part of the course also covers how to set up your own business.

“We will teach you all of the skills that you need to be successful in your new venture.

“Once these levels, which can be studied at home in up to 12 months, have been passed, you will be invited to our clinic for a two-week practical assessment by us before launching your new venture either full or part-time alongside your current job.”

For more information visit www.thehealmpractice.co.uk

Sills & Betteridge LLP, one of the region’s leading law firms, has recently opened the doors to its newly refurbished office extension at Marshall’s Yard.

Situated in Britannia House between Card Factory and Greggs, the new ground floor entrance and meeting rooms will make the firm’s services more accessible to clients and allow for extra room for its growing team.

The team handle a wide range of personal legal services including wills, trusts and probate, residential property, family law, personal injury, crime and motoring offences. Lawyers from the firm’s large commercial team visit Gainsborough regularly to assist local businesses with corporate matters, property, employment law and litigation.

For more information visit www.sillslegal.co.uk

Founded in October 2019 on the side of a fishing lake in Ashby by Rick Roberts and Mick Leyland, the Bearded Fishermen has become well established as a mental health, wellbeing and suicide awareness support group.

Having recently moved to bigger premises in the town’s Market Place, this non-profit organisation is dedicated to helping adults, children, families and communities. The charity offers telephone, face-to-face and referral support and works with the NHS, emergency services and mental health teams to help those in need.

The Bearded Fishermen also assists in searches for missing persons, and is calling for additional volunteers to join the team.

“Anyone over the age of 18, from all walks of life, can help us by volunteering,” says Rick. “You don’t need previous experience or qualifications as we will provide all the training you need. Our door is always open to all.”

For more information contact 0300 365 0019 (Freephone) or visit www.beardedfishermen.org.uk

Wefco’s location on the site of Gainsborough’s historic Britannia Iron Works is a testament to the enduring spirit of industrial prowess.

In the heart of Gainsborough, where the echoes of the Industrial Revolution still resonate, Wefco (Gainsborough) Ltd – a manufacturing company with a commitment to innovation and progress – takes root in the historic grounds of the Britannia Iron Works, once home to the pioneering Marshalls.

The iron works were established by William Marshall in the 1840s and formed an industrial powerhouse that played a pivotal role in the transformation of the town. The echoes of steam engines and the clatter of machinery defined an era of progress, innovation and economic vitality. Now, with Wefco breathing sustained life into these historic grounds, the legacy of industry lives on.

“The huge pride for our heritage is matched with that for the efforts of today,” explains managing director and co-owner Daniel Anderson.

“Our vast facilities house the latest plant and machinery, ensuring swift and dynamic production with exceptional accuracy. Our fully trained, coded and multi-trade workforce and management team are enriched with years of product knowledge and industry experience.

“Our history grounds us and our future excites us!”

UK Market Leader
As a trusted and leading privately owned UK manufacturer of a range of storage tanks, pressure vessels, steelwork and fabrications for specialist industries, Wefco has earned its position as the UK market leader within a multitude of market sectors.

The company, which celebrated its 50th anniversary three years ago, together with its highly skilled workforce, has built a solid reputation for quality and reliability.

The company prides itself on offering a diverse range of engineered solutions to help underpin the foundation of their clients’ businesses.

“We supply numerous industries, including oil and gas, water treatment, filtration and processing, but as testament to our ethos of innovation we are a chosen partner in new and emerging markets.”

Clean energy revolution
Daniel explains: “As we move toward a low-carbon future, and as cleaner energies emerge and develop, the engineering industry is poised for growth.

“At the heart of our company is a commitment to safety, innovation, reliability and sustainability and we believe that expert energy storage is the key to unlocking the full potential of renewable energy and driving a clean energy revolution.”

Wefco is currently a selected partner and has designed and is manufacturing a number of large Hydrogen Storage Vessels for a world-first green hydrogen-to-homes heating network within the UK.
The vessels are made from steel over 30mm thick, weigh over 75 tonnes each and measure over 20m in length.

“Thousands of hours of skilled workmanship have been employed on this project. It demonstrates the skill of our team, and the excellence we possess [at] our core.

“We have strong values in collaboration and teamwork and are committed to delivering exceptional quality, while also embracing creativity, inclusivity and continuous improvement. Community engagement is very important to us.”

Employment opportunities
Much like the artisans of Marshalls before them, Wefco understands that investing in the development of people is vital for the sustainability of industry.

By offering apprenticeships, Wefco is not just building a skilled workforce; it is fostering a culture of continuous learning, sustainability and innovation.

Daniel Anderson himself joined the company more than 20 years ago: “Right from the start, I was keen to continue Wefco’s ethos of development and have afforded the same opportunities I had to others.
“A statement made by our chairman, Mr John Jenkinson, still resonates very strongly with me:

‘Quality has always and remains a prerequisite in our industry. Facilities in themselves would be of no value, were it not for the continued commitment of our skilled workforce and dedicated management team, who collectively provide quality and productivity levels second to none in the industry.’

“I take enormous pride in seeing the products we produce and the people who produce them.

“The UK and Europe are currently suffering a skills shortage and these skills are in high demand.

Engineering is an extremely viable career opportunity.”

Daniel says the company welcomes applications from people seeking employment opportunities – from apprentices to skilled platers, welders and operatives.

“We offer stable employment with opportunity to progress, develop and fulfil a career in engineering.”
Wefco offers full NVQ based apprenticeships, starting at level 2, with the first formal part of the apprenticeship completing at level 3, although the company also supports learners through to higher level qualifications where applicable.

“Apprentices are mentored by experienced tradespeople who are happy to share their many years of experience to help grow the future engineering workforce.

Daniel says anyone interested in joining the company is welcome to make contact: A new website is due to launch soon, but for more information visit www.wefco.co.uk or www.hydrogenvessels.co.uk

Meet apprentice Isaac Price
Isaac joined Wefco as an apprentice six months ago and says a career in engineering had long been an ambition.

“When I was at school, I used to see Wefco tanks leaving the site and always wanted to understand more about how they were made.

“My job is interesting and hands-on, plus the products we make are very varied. I take pride in telling my family about my involvement in exciting projects such as the hydrogen vessels.

During my time as an apprentice, I’ve picked up many skills and I’m also getting support from my supervisors and managers if I need help with anything.

“Being an apprentice allows you to pick up lots of skills and tips that you aren’t yet accustomed to, as well as help to develop your own way of working. I’m looking forward to progressing in my career at Wefco.”

Walters Opticians is a family run business which opened its doors in the heart of Gainsborough 24 years ago.

Keeping up with regular eye exams is extremely important and Walters offers many services at both practices including:
• Private and NHS eye examinations
• Contact lens clinics with access to the best contact lenses available, which suit all individual lives and budgets
• Tear clinics specialising in Dry Eye
• Colorimetry/Visual stress tests
• A huge selection of designer brands for both ophthalmic and sunglass frames such as Gucci, Tom Ford and Prada

“In our Gainsborough Practice we have invested in a Heidelberg OCT retinal scanning machine, used for all examinations. The machine takes detailed scans of the back of the eye – we also use the machine for private extended scans for a more in-depth investigation. And as an independent optician we make sure that we offer the very top-quality lenses on the market. We proudly offer Essilor lenses, the world’s leading brand for varifocals. We can offer a Varilux lens which is a bespoke lens made uniquely for you.”

34-36 Market Place, Gainsborough DN21 2BY, Tel: 01427 616505 or contact sales@waltersopticians.com

With more than 75 deliciously different flavours to choose from, Blyton Ice Cream prides itself on offering a range of unique and favourite flavours which are all home made at Blyton’s Old Hall Farm.

This award-winning dairy ice cream parlour, which opened in 1985, also offers a range of mouth-watering desserts, including waffles, crêpes and traditional sundaes, with daily specials and different flavours and toppings each day.

Visitors can relax and spend time in Blyton’s welcoming ice cream parlour enjoying daily chef sweet and savoury specials, or take time out in the attractive spacious outdoor seating area where milkshakes, plus hot and cold drinks and a selection of light snacks are served.

Party bookings are available and there is also an outdoor play area and crazy golf for families to enjoy.

For more information visit www.blytonicecream.co.uk

Find your perfect place at Thonock Vale in the charming market town of Gainsborough.

If you’re looking for a beautiful new home in one of Lincolnshire’s most popular locations, designed to your own personal tastes, then Thonock Vale is the perfect place for you.

A location you’ll love
Nestled on the edge of the prestigious golf course from which it takes its name, Thonock Vale is in a delightful semi-rural location offering residents all the benefits of market town living.

This prestigious Beal Homes development is an exclusive community of two, three and four-bedroom homes.

We’re a family-run, independent housebuilder with a proud track record of creating exceptional new communities across Lincolnshire, including the ongoing and highly successful Bishop’s Green development in Welton, and the stunning Burton Waters inland marina, both near Lincoln.

With a backdrop of rolling Lincolnshire countryside, Thonock Vale features many of our most popular house types, such as the four-bedroom Hilton and three-bedroom Malham.

Fringing the acclaimed Thonock Park golf course, it presents a unique opportunity to become part of Gainsborough’s thriving and close-knit community.

Everything you need, on your doorstep
Gainsborough is well established as one of Lincolnshire’s most desirable locations, thanks in no small part to the Marshall’s Yard retail and leisure destination. Featuring Browns department store, M&S Simply Food, Next, The Range and more, it’s the perfect place to shop, socialise and unwind with friends and family.

The town boasts an enviable selection of local pubs, restaurants and farmers’ markets, and is a popular choice for families due to its excellent choice of primary and secondary schools.

It’s also well connected to nearby towns and cities, with a direct rail link to Lincoln and easy access to Doncaster, Hull and Scunthorpe, making it ideal for commuters.

Your home, designed by you
As a Thonock Vale buyer, you’ll benefit from our unrivalled Design Lounge service, which enables you to customise your new home, including altering the internal layout, to suit your lifestyle and tastes, down to the very last detail.

There are hundreds of options available to select from, ensuring your Beal home is truly one of a kind – built by us, designed by you!

Thonock Vale is ideal for a wide range of house hunters, from first-time buyers to families, professionals and downsizers. Our high-quality range of house types, together with our personalised design service, available to every buyer, means you can be sure you’ll find your ideal new home with us.

For the brand new, bespoke home of your dreams in one of Lincolnshire’s best locations, look no further than Thonock Vale.

Start your journey to your bespoke Beal home at Thonock Vale by visiting www.beal-homes.co.uk/thonock-vale or call our sales hotline: 01482 977 776.

With markets held in the town for more than 800 years, West Lindsey District Council is investing in the historic Market Place to help boost the town’s commercial and social heart.

Gainsborough’s main retail market day is held every Tuesday and features a range of great value food and clothing plus other goods and services, while Saturday’s market, although smaller, is attracting new traders.

Farmers’ and craft markets are held on the second Saturday of the month (February to December) with a range of produce and craft traders, including Redhill Farm, local makers of jams, cakes and bakes plus Lincolnshire crafters and makers selling unique feltwork, iron garden ornaments and jewellery.

Don’t miss the new Vegan Market on 17th February and the Antiques Fair on 30th March.

“The market is a great, risk-free way of trying out a new business idea or expanding from online selling.

“We have pitches for budding market traders with incentives for young traders (16-30 years of age) and new traders. Get in touch to find out more.”

Find out more by getting in touch with West Lindsey’s markets officer: market.officer@west-lindsey.gov.uk

Photographs: Mick Fox

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